Citizen Ruth (1996)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  13 December 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 5,622 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 50 user | 42 critic | 18 from

An irresponsible, drug-addicted, recently impregnated woman finds herself in the middle of an abortion debate when both parties attempt to sway her to their respective sides.


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3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Diane Siegler
Norm Stoney
Dr. Charlie Rollins
Judge Richter
Nurse Pat
Jessica Weiss
Lance Rome ...
Ricky, Ruth's Lover
Jim Kalal ...
Tony Stoops
Shea Degan ...
Arresting Officer
Vince Morelli ...
Dr. George


Ruth Stoops is a poor indigent drug-user (a huffer - inhaling glue and paint for a high) whose down and out existence is complicated once more by becoming pregnant (she has had and lost four children already). When a judge orders that she gets an abortion or face a felony charge, she is befriended by Gail Stoney, a pro-lifer whose husband is president of the local "Babysavers" group. Suddenly Ruth is thrust into the middle of the pro-choice/pro-life struggle, with each side wanting her to take their side as a "message" to others - and the situation escalates... Written by Gary Dickerson <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Life, liberty, money and the pursuit of happiness. She's gotta have it. See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for substance abuse, strong language and a sex scene | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

13 December 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Meet Ruth Stoops  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$26,709 (USA) (13 December 1996)


$153,155 (USA) (10 January 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The "ASK ME" pin worn by Kurtwood Smith in the hardware store shows up again in Alexander Payne's following film, Election (1999). See more »


On the morning when Ruth is taken to have her abortion, no one notices the blood on the bed or her bloody hand print on the door. See more »


Ruth: What's the mater? Are you fuckin' people deaf? I said I want an abortion.
See more »

Crazy Credits

About halfway through the credits, we hear the beginning of Tape 2, Side 1. See more »


Features Cops (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

Devastatingly, but hilarious view of Choice vs. Life
6 October 2001 | by (Reno, NV) – See all my reviews

Laura Dern gives what should have been an oscar-winning performance in this satire of the abortion controversy. However this movie is not for the main stream. She plays a homeless drug user and a user period. Not a nice person. She has four kids in three different places. The first scene depicts her trying to hit up her ex for money displaying only a token concern for her kids. But by the end of the movie you kinda like her (well, almost... you still would never let her come to your house). Anyway when she is picked up for the 16th time that year by the cops for sniffing household stuff (anything she can find: glue, paint, brake fluid...), the authorities find out that she is pregnant. The DA charges her with criminal endangerment of the fetus, but hints that if she has an abortion the charge will go away. While in the city jail she meets up with the Baby Savers and a tug-of-war ensues between them and the Right-To-Choose people. The portrayal of both sides is so devastatingly accurate that I doubt either side would know they're being lampooned. This movie rates with Cold Turkey and Drop Dead Gorgeous for its cynical, but hilarious portrait of American Life.

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